Depression is one of the most common emotional disorders. It may be manifested in varying degrees: from feelings of slight sadness to utter misery and dejection. Depression is a very unplea¬sant malady and is far more difficult to cope with than a physical ailment The growing complexities of modem life and its resultant crises, as well as the mental stress and strain of day-to-day life, usually leads to this disorder.
Causes and Symptoms
The most striking symptoms of depression are an acute sense of loss, inexplicable sadness, loss of energy, lack of interest in the world around, and fatigue. A disturbed sleep is a frequent occurrence. Other symptoms of depression are loss of appetite, giddiness, itching, nausea, agitation, irritability, impotence or frigidity, constipation, aches and pains all over the body, lack of concentration, and indecisiveness. Cases of severe depression may be characterised by low body temperature, low blood pressure, hot flushes, and shivering.
Prolonged periods of anxiety and tension can cause mental depression. The excessive and indiscriminate use of drugs also leads to faulty assimilation of vitamins and minerals by the body and ultimately causes depression.
Apple: Apple is one of the most valuable remedies for mental depression. The various chemical substances present in this fruit such as vitamin B phosphorus, and potassium help the synthesis of glutamic acid, which controls the wear and tear of nerve cells. The fruit should be taken with milk and honey. This remedy will act as a very effective nerve tonic and recharge the nerves with new energy and life.
Cashewnut: The cashewnutis another valuable remedy for general depression and nervous weakness. It is rich in vitamins of the B group, especially thiamine, and is therefore useful in stimulating the appetite and the nervous system. It is also rich in riboflavin which keeps the body active, cheerful, and energetic.
Asparagus: The root of asparagus has been found beneficial in the treatment of depression. It is highly nutritious and is used as a herbal medicine for mental disorders. It is a good tonic for the brain and nerves. One or two grams of the powder of the dry root of the plant can be taken once daily.
Cardamom: The use of cardamom has proved valuable in depression. Powdered seeds should be boiled in water and tea prepared in the usual way. A very pleasing aroma is added to the tea, which can be used as a medicine in the treatment of this condition.
Lemon Balm: The herb lemon balm has been used successfully in the treatment of mental depression. It alleviates brain fatigue, lifts the heart from depression, and raises the spirits.
A cold infusion of the balm taken freely is reputed to be excellent for its calming influence on the nerves. About thirty grams of the herb should be placed in half a litre of cold water and allowed to stand for twelve hours. The infusion should then be strained and taken in small doses throughout the day.
Rose: An infusion of rose petals should be prepared by mixing 15 gm of rose petals in 250 ml of boiling water. If drunk occasionally, instead of the usual tea and coffee, it is beneficial for treating this condition.
Vitamin B: Diet has a profound effect on the mental health of a person. Even a single nutritional deficiency can cause depression in susceptible people. Nutritional therapy builds up brain chemicals, such as serotonin and norepinephrine, that affect the mood and are often lacking in depressed people. Eating foods rich in vitamin B, such as wholegrains, green vegetables, eggs, and fish helps restore vitality and cheer in an individual.
The dietof aperson suffering from depression should completely exclude tea, coffee, alcohol, chocolate, colas, all white flour products, sugar, food colourings, chemical additives, white rice, and strong condiments. The diet should be restricted to three meals. Fruits can be taken in the morning for breakfast with milk and a handful of nuts or seeds. Lunch may consist of steamed vegetables, wholewheat chapatis and a glass of buttermilk. For dinner, green vegetable salad and all the available sprouts such as alfalfa seeds, moong beans, cottage cheese, or a glass of buttermilk would be ideal.
A person suffering from depression can overcome it by being more active, turning away from himself, and diverting his attention towards other people and things. The pleasure of achieving something overcomes distress or misery. Exercise also plays an important role in the treatment of depression. It not only keeps the body physically and mentally fit, but also provides recreation and mental relaxation. It is nature’s best tranquilliser. Exercise also tones up the body, provides a feeling of accomplishment, and reduces the sense of helplessness.
The patient must also learn the art of relaxation and meditation which will go a long way in curing depression. He must gain control over his nervous system and channelise his mental and emotional energies into restful activities. This can be achieved by ensuring sufficient rest and sleep under quiet conditions. Meditation will help create a balance in the nervous system. This will enable the hormonal glands to return to a correct state of hormonal balance and thereby overcome the feeling of depression.